BECAUSE WE COULD
Thomas Friedman offers his take on the WMD debate:
The failure of the Bush team to produce any weapons of mass destruction (W.M.D.’s) in Iraq is becoming a big, big story. But is it the real story we should be concerned with? No. It was the wrong issue before the war, and it’s the wrong issue now.
Why? Because there were actually four reasons for this war: the real reason, the right reason, the moral reason and the stated reason.
The “real reason” for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world. Afghanistan wasn’t enough because a terrorism bubble had built up over there Ã¢€” a bubble that posed a real threat to the open societies of the West and needed to be punctured. This terrorism bubble said that plowing airplanes into the World Trade Center was O.K., having Muslim preachers say it was O.K. was O.K., having state-run newspapers call people who did such things “martyrs” was O.K. and allowing Muslim charities to raise money for such “martyrs” was O.K. Not only was all this seen as O.K., there was a feeling among radical Muslims that suicide bombing would level the balance of power between the Arab world and the West, because we had gone soft and their activists were ready to die.
The “right reason” for this war was the need to partner with Iraqis, post-Saddam, to build a progressive Arab regime. Because the real weapons of mass destruction that threaten us were never Saddam’s missiles. The real weapons that threaten us are the growing number of angry, humiliated young Arabs and Muslims, who are produced by failed or failing Arab states Ã¢€” young people who hate America more than they love life. Helping to build a decent Iraq as a model for others Ã¢€” and solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Ã¢€” are the necessary steps for defusing the ideas of mass destruction, which are what really threaten us.
* * *
The “moral reason” for the war was that Saddam’s regime was an engine of mass destruction and genocide that had killed thousands of his own people, and neighbors, and needed to be stopped.
I agree with this analysis wholeheartedly. As noted Tuesday, I find it more than a little troubling that the Administration based its case for war on a pretext–the “stated reason” of Iraqi WMD–rather than on the “real reason.” While lip service was paid to terrorism and liberation, they should have been at the heart of the argument if that was the rationale for war.